Membership is a Beach: The Water is Nice, but the Sand is Good Too
by Stephanie Cascone
Originally printed in the April 2019 issue of the Braille Monitor.
As soon as we get to any beach, my wife Lisa runs right into the water. I’m always surprised if she even gives herself enough time to drop off her belongings before heading in, because she can’t wait to be swimming in the sea—the cool water on her skin and the hot sun on her face. It’s amazing at how different we are. Me? I prefer to relax on the beach with a book in my hand and feet in the sand.
What does this have to do with being a member?
Sometimes members are like my wife at the beach—all in right away. They become a member, volunteer for committees, and engage with the waves of endless opportunities. Engage. Lead. Repeat. We need those members, but not all members are the same. However, all members are valuable. Some members prefer staying on the sand.
What about those members who prefer to hang back or maybe just get their feet wet? They’re needed, too. I have been one of those members. On social media, they call people like us the lurkers. We are a large volume of any audience who observe what’s going on but don’t actively participate much. We’ve been to a few meetings or maybe volunteered for an event or two. Or, we simply watch from a distance either on social media or through the available publications.
Don’t count us out or forget about us. We believe in the mission; that’s most likely why we joined. We also have potential to participate more.
I am a parent of a blind child. Sometimes I want to be more active as a member while other times I would rather not. My son is similar; it’s probably safe to say that he gets a lot of his personality from me. I’ve encouraged him to be involved in the community, whether it’s our local community or the blind community, but being engaged can feel difficult at any age. A few years ago we joined the National Federation of the Blind but started off simply lurking. Eventually, I helped at a couple of local events and attended some family connections. Most importantly, I began getting to know other members. I’ve started to become more involved—slowly making my way into the water. The water is nice.
Be the member that you are comfortable with being. All members are needed to help build the Federation and reach our goals to raise expectations. I asked my fourteen-year-old son why he thought membership is important. He said, “If you ever wanted to change the world, being a member allows you to do that.” His wisdom is clear and simple: when you are a member, you are making yourself be part of the mission—no matter how big or small your splash is.
Dive into the water or stand with your feet in the sand. Let’s change the world together.